Synthetic Minds rounds up $5.5M in Pantera Capital-led funding

Synthetic Minds, a smart contract security startup out of San Francisco, has raised $5.5 million in a funding round backed by blockchain investment company Pantera Capital and venture capital firm Khosla Ventures. The money raised will go towards a technology analyzing blockchain networks for coding bugs.

The startup, founded in 2017, had just graduated from the Y Combinator accelerator program, where it launched the first version of its technology. Synthetic Minds utilizes program synthesis, a computer science method used by organizations like NASA to ensure the safety of mission-critical software in the space station as well as the Mars Rover, according to Venture Beat. Using this method, which falls under a discipline called formal methods, Synthetic Minds designed an automation technology that the startup claims can “analyze (read) and synthesize (write) computer code better than humans can.” Synthetic Minds revealed that, “Eventually, using program synthesis we will be able to offload most of the programming for mission critical systems to software, leaving humans free to do high-level architectural design.”

According to Saurabh Srivastava, founder of Synthetic Minds, the startup’s goal is to bring “automation to coding…Specifically, our code analysis tools read code better than humans, and we are getting close to automation that can write code better, as well. Our long-term mission is make software creation accessible to everybody, especially non-programmers.”

Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, said Synthetic Minds is already in position to provide a safe and enterprise-grade smart contract platform utilizing program synthesis, noting, “We believed in the team at Synthetic Minds and their expertise to build hard tech that will further grow adoption of smart contracts, both in the public and enterprise domains.”

Pantera has been involved in several funding rounds for major blockchain projects, the latest of which was with Synthetic Minds. The blockchain investment company recently launched its third crypto fund, with over 90 investors committing $71 million to the fund. Pantera also has investments in Zcash, Bakkt and ShapeShift, among others.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Adult industry payment platform saves own ass after getting spanked

SpankChain, blockchain-based payment service solution for the adult industry, has disclosed the details of a hack that resulted in losses equivalent to $38,000.

As a result of a broken smart contract, a hacker was able to break into the SpankChain platform and siphon funds from some of its users, through deploying a reentrancy bug—the same bug that has previously been used to attack the DAO.

The scam saw losses of 165.38 ETH, as well as $4,000 worth of BOOTY on the platform immobilized, with the total balance divided between SpankChain and some of its users, with the organisation coming in for sharp criticism over the event.

Explaining the nuts and bolts of the attack, the firm posted an update on Medium: “In short, the attack capitalized on a ‘reentrancy’ bug, much like the one exploited in The DAO. The attacker created a malicious contract masquerading as an ERC20 token, where the ‘transfer’ function called back into the payment channel contract multiple times, draining some ETH each time.”

According to SpankChain, “The malicious contract first called createChannel to set up the channel, then called LCOpenTimeout repeatedly via reentrancy. The LCOpenTimeout is there to allow users to quickly exit payment channels which have not yet been joined by the counter-party.”

On Thursday, SpankChain CEO Ameen Soleimani confirmed that “the stuck BOOTY has been recovered.”

The now-resolved SpankChain hack comes as only the latest example of a significant hacking event affecting a crypto platform, with scams and hacks rapidly increasing in number over the last few months.

SpankChain acknowledged that it could have commissioned a security audit on the smart contract, which may have identified the weakness before it was exploited. However, this would have cost around $50,000, more than the total of the losses incurred.

Either way, SpankChain committed to tightening security as it continues to expand, saying, “As we move forward and grow, we will be stepping up our security practices, and making sure to get multiple internal audits for any smart contract code we publish, as well as at least one professional external audit.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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