Quadriga CX is a crypto-currency exchange. The only person who knew the password died and now the exchange cannot access $140 million dollars of bitcoins. Stories abound of people forgetting a password and losing their bitcoins. But this is an exchange that has lost the password. Read more.

One problem is that bitcoins are ether—not tangible. However, I never see or touch most of the dollars in my paycheck, which is electronically deposited in my and mostly goes to the many electronic bills. The primary problem is that the exchange was badly managed.

Our power grid is fragile

While. this article was in the queue waiting to be posted, the power was lost at ATL—Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport—busiest airport in the US. There was a fire in an equipment room that took out the primary and all backups. What a poor design. Every highly-available data center I have visited has two fully-independent sources of power and local backup power (ie, a generator). The failures in ATL effected more that the passengers flying through ATL. The 1,500 canceled flights had cascading effects throughout the US and the world. This is gross negligence on the part of ATL. The inadequacy was certainly obvious to anyone who cared to look but no one looked. Unfortunately, ATL is not the only critical infrastructure that is negligently designed or maintained. It would be wonderful if the event in ATL perpetuates upgrades systems but I will not hold my breath.

The article that I planned to discuss shows how fragile smart systems have become. Advanced control systems in our power grid are merely internet-connected software programs that are vulnerable to attacks just as any other software. These systems are so critically important to our daily life that they require significantly more protection. However, the reality is that they are carelessly built. Most unfortunate is that fixing these known vulnerabilities in this critical systems may not happen until after a massive disruption (such as happened in ATL). There is a better path but it appears to be untraveled.

You don’t own that car

A modern car only runs because of the software. GM has copyright on the software. They contend that the owner of the car only has a license to make use of the software. If they or some they hire (like an independent mechanic) tinkers with the software it is breaking the law. This doesn’t look good. The courts agree with GM, it will raise the cost of cars and reduce choice. Read more here.