Evertas Represents at Finney Forum

portraits of Ryan Lackey and J. Gdanski flanking the Finney Forum 2024 logo

In March, Evertas co-founder and CEO J. Gdanski and CSO Ryan Lackey made a trip to Texas to speak at Finney Forum. J. delivered a talk titled “PoW as Critical Infrastructure,” and Ryan spoke on “Bitcoin And Cybersecurity.” Proof of Work / infrastructure and cybersecurity play into Evertas’ big picture goal of leveraging regulation towards making crypto a regulated and reliable global currency.

The Finney Forum is an event that “brings together the top experts in privacy and cybersecurity using Bitcoin, Monero, and other tools”– or, as Ryan said, “…somewhat of an outgrowth of a Bitcoin and Guns event (two things I like!)”

In his talk, J. asserted that PoW isn’t going away, and is likely to expand. Proof of Work has a reputation for a negative environmental impact, but J. sees its environmental impact as flexible, as it’s geographically decentralized and miners have the option to turn on and off in response to demand spikes. His perspective is that PoW is censorship resistant, geographically diverse and decentralized and that its unique attributes are desirable in certain use cases; PoW remains relevant even with Proof of stake (PoS) and Proof of Authority (PoA) systems in use.

illustration of proof of work virtuous cycle by J Gdanski

In his talk, Ryan asserted that crypto is both a positive and a negative for cybersecurity. On the positive side, participation in the crypto ecosystem can expose security liabilities that have been quietly ignored for a long time, bringing them to the surface and (when addressed) leading to a more secure environment. The “bug bounty inherent in every crypto project” strongly encourages a proactive vs purely reactive approach to security, and provides a clear metric to measure what works, rather than just abstract checkbox compliance without that feedback.

The de facto requirement for smart contracts to undergo formal audit (unlike most software in other fields) and innovations in hardware security around key management and trusted computing are also beneficial influences of crypto on the broader cybersecurity industry. Ryan believes that substantial research, innovation and development of new technologies is needed; that decentralized, permissionless innovation is a benefit to everyone; and that crypto continues to be a pioneering industry on that basis.

In addition to Evertas execs speaking, Tor Ekeland, a trial and appellate lawyer best known for representing hackers and white collar defendants in federal criminal court and on appeal, provided the keynote for 2024’s Finney Forum. He and colleague Michael Hassard spoke about the Bitcoin Fog/Roman Sterlingov case. Sterlingov, a citizen of Russia and Sweden, has been found guilty of operating a bitcoin money laundering service on the darknet, and Tor Ekeland is defending him, planning an appeal of what they see as a miscarriage of justice in multiple dimensions. They particularly highlighted the difficulties with crypto evidence, in that a pattern of transactions may be recorded on a blockchain, but the significance of that pattern depends on many factors not recorded in the same way. Additionally, while someone may be connected to a transaction, it could be in an innocent capacity rather than materially related to the transaction.

The event also had deep expertise from the Monero and operational security communities, with panels and multiple speakers sharing insights. Much of the event was privacy focused, with some speakers appearing on stage in full face masks, under obvious pseudonyms, and generally embracing the ethos of the early days of crypto – quite different from some of the more corporate and institutional events held elsewhere, but with valuable information for those communities as well.