Olliv the Above: Crypto hacks fall in 2023

This week's Olliv the Above covers crypto news from all corners of the globe: the worldwide number of crypto hacks came down in early 2023, a Paris-based crypto wallet manufacturer hits the pause button on a planned seed phrase recovery service, and urban dwellers in East Asian countries are finding ways to earn crypto while reporting aging infrastructure in cities.

Here's the crypto news you need to know for the week of May 29, 2023.

The number of crypto hacks was 70% lower for the beginning of 2023 compared to the same period last year, according to a report by blockchain analytics firm TRM Labs. Hacking victims were also able to recover more than half of their stolen funds in Q1 2023. Is the decrease due to better security or fewer active hackers? The “crypto” part of the name means hidden, but that doesn’t necessarily mean all crypto can be considered hack-proof.

More reading: Can Bitcoin be hacked?

Ledger, a hardware crypto wallet maker, is backtracking on a controversial plan to offer a seed phrase recovery option for wallet owners. A seed phrase (also called a private key) is a sequence of randomly generated words or numbers that gives crypto wallet owners access to the digital assets stored on their wallets. If a seed phrase is lost or forgotten, investors may end up locked out of their wallets with no way to access their holdings.

The phrase “not your keys, not your crypto” is an oft-repeated mantra in the crypto world. And it’s the central idea behind self-custody, where investors forego custodial services like centralized exchanges and instead hold onto their assets themselves. Ledger's plan for the optional recovery service called for splitting up private keys into three pieces, or “shards,” that would be held by three separate entities.

Does splitting up private keys and handing out the “shards” to third parties fly in the face of self-custody? There was enough uproar from the crypto community to sway Ledger into rethinking its approach to private key recovery. The wallet maker decided to pump the brakes on the recovery option while they open source the software and allow the public to look under the hood before it launches.  

Learn more: Intro to crypto wallet security

An app that gamifies infrastructure improvement is helping utility companies crowdsource areas of cities needing repair. The Tekkon app displays an interactive map that guides users as they take snapshots of shoddy infrastructure, like pesky potholes. The app then shares the data with utility companies so they can keep up with maintenance requests. Tekkon users get paid in cryptocurrency for their activity in the app.

The idea of gamifying the physical world through the lens of a smartphone app isn’t anything new – just think of the Pokémon Go craze that swept the globe a few years back. The concept of a virtual layer that sits on real-world locations is called augmented reality (AR). Apps that rely on AR can show users anything from little factoids about their location to digital monsters that they can rope in and add to their collections. It’s a field with numerous applications in the world of crypto.

Tekkon may not be available to users in the United States right now, but it illustrates a critical use case for crypto adoption and crowdsourced data at the same time. Average citizens can help their communities fix serious issues that lead to better quality of life using nothing besides a smartphone, and their crypto wallets can reap the benefits as well.

Stay current: Crypto and gaming

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