Tech 10 October 2018Erik Gibbs
Coming soon: 51% attack announced to show blockchain vulnerabilities
Usually, a 51% attack is designed to steal money. It allows the scammer to temporarily gain control of a blockchain and proceed to enter double spends on the network as a means to surreptitiously fill the hacker’s own wallet. While that may usually be the reason, an upcoming attack doesn’t want money. Additionally, while announcing 51% attacks are obviously counterproductive to the end cause, the perpetrator of the upcoming attack was all too happy to announce the event.
The attack is going to be led by someone going by the name of “piracy1,” according to the announcement. It will be conducted at 4 a.m. Eastern U.S. time on October 13, and is designed to only show how easy it is for someone to perform an attack. It will be performed against the Einsteinium (EMC2) cryptocurrency and will “demonstrate how easy these attacks are for anyone to do.” It will also “generally teach people about the nuts and bolts of these attacks and potential mitigations.”
51% attacks have been a popular subject this year among developers who stress how dangerous the attacks can be. Already there have been a number of attacks, including two against the cryptocurrency Verge and one against BTC Gold—all within a three-month window.
Attacking EMC2 won’t have any dire ramifications on the Einsteinium blockchain, or cryptocurrency in general. EMC2 is almost worthless, having dropped 97% of its value in the past year. However, it makes for the perfect target, as those cryptocurrencies with extremely low hashrates are easier to pick through.
In fact, piracy1 is more than likely going to have to dig into his own pockets to perform the attack due to the extremely low value of the cryptocurrency. He even indicated in his announcement that he was “putting in $50” of his own money, and is willing to accept donations from others for the attack.
Most developers and blockchain experts already understand the dangers of a 51% attack, especially among those digital assets outside of the top ten list. However, this is the first time that someone has announced that he will be conducting such an attack, and the whole world is invited to watch. It will be livestreamed on Twitch.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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