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Ethereum Classic rolls out 51% attack protection plan

Ethereum Classic Labs has released a detailed plan regarding the changes that should be made to the ETC network to protect it from future 51% attacks. The plan comes just two weeks after the ETC network was 51% attacked twice in one week, with the 1st attack resulting in a 3,000 block reorg and a $5.6 million loss from the OKEx exchange and the second attack resulting in a 4,000 block reorg and a loss of an unknown amount.

The problem

Ethereum Classic was 51% attacked twice in one week because it is not very expensive to execute a 51% attack on the network. According to crypto51, a website with statistics regarding how expensive it is to 51% attack a network, it only costs $5,288 to 51% attack the ETC network for one hour. Since it is possible to rent large amounts of hash from hash provider NiceHash, it does not take much to exploit the Ethereum Classic network.

In their report, ETC labs even says “Ethereum Classic is not only vulnerable to 51% attacks, but these attacks are possible to execute due to the available hash rate that can be rented on various platforms.”  

The solution

ETC Labs has laid out both a short term and long term plan to protect the Ethereum Classic network from future 51% attacks. In the short term, ETC Labs says the network will adopt a “defensive mining strategy” via a “cooperation with miners and mining pools to maintain a more consistent hash rate and to increase hash rate when needed.”

In addition, ETC labs says the ETC network will enhance network monitoring to identify unusual increases in hash and will have digital currency exchanges increase the confirmation time for ETC transactions.

In the next three to six months, ETC Labs says the ETC network may “change the proof-of-work mining algorithm. The two alternatives under consideration are Keccak-256 or RandomX. These could be implemented through a hard fork in approximately 6 months, provided that testing is completed successfully.”

Regardless, the ETC network needs a solution and it needs a solution fast. Since January 1, the total hash of the ETC network has dropped by more than 70%, and each day the ETC network goes without implementing a solution or reducing its 51% attack vector, the less attractive the ETC network looks to the individuals who could supply the hash that keeps the network stable.

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