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When a $250,000 prize creates anger

You’d think a $250,000 bounty would excite people. When a company sets a challenge with the promise that one person will walk away with quarter of a million dollars, you would expect people to be up and at ’em, trying to win the money.

I’ve written about effective prize draws and  ideas for prizes in the past, but Bitfi’s bounty is an out and out competition, inviting people to hack its wallet.

The tech community has been getting riled up over what hacking means and what would qualify for the $250,000 bounty.

Here’s the explanation of the competition on the Bitfi website.

The rules for claiming the bounty are simple:

  • We deposit coins into a Bitfi wallet
  • If you wish to participate in the bounty program, you will purchase a Bitfi wallet that is preloaded with coins for just an additional $10 (the reason for the charge is because we need to ensure serious inquiries only)
  • If you successfully extract the coins and empty the wallet, this would be considered a successful hack
  • You can then keep the coins and Bitfi will make a payment to you of $250,000
  • Please note that we grant anyone who participates in this bounty permission to use all possible attack vectors, including our servers, nodes, and our infrastructure

Let the carnage begin

Over the past few days, Bitfi’s Twitter account seems to have spent more time arguing with competitors than discussing practical outcomes.

There’s the spat between companies, arguing over who has the best technology.

Bitfi bounty Twitter conversation

There’s the exchange between a person who claims a 15-year-old hacked the device and the company saying put up or shut up.

Bitfi Twitter account

And the debates continue about what “unhackable” means.

Bitfi Bounty Twitter conversation.

Bitfi posted to clarify what matters.

Bitfi bounty explanation

Users also complained about the attitude of the person managing the Twitter account.

Bitfi Twitter complaints

The company apparently fired the person, or moved them to another role, according to circumstantial comments.

That didn’t prove to be a successful move.

Bitfi Twitter fired person

Perhaps it was a mistake to ask the hacking community to  try to hack a product by claiming it is unhackable, but, as I write this, Bitfi is still holding on to its $250,000 prize, while the community furore continues.

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