Cryptocurrency project Vertcoin has experienced yet another 51% attack last December 1, which led to five double spends valued at 125 VTC worth approximately $29. Vertcoin lead maintainer James Lovejoy confirmed in a GitHub post that the hacker replaced 553 blocks out of Vertcoin’s 663 genuine blocks.
The attacker/s was able to attain more than 50% hash power of Vertcoin’s blockchain system, allowing them to rewrite blocks and alter data. Lovejoy said the attack was executed by utilizing hash power borrowed from Nicehash. A similar instance occurred around a year ago when Vertcoin’s blockchain network was hacked, causing multiple reorgs in the system and a total loss of over $100,000.
The attack on Vertcoin in 2018 led the company to change its system algorithm to one called Lyra2REv3 since they prefer affordable mining that allows for the involvement of the community. Vertcoin does not favor application-specific integrated circuit devices, as these do not comply with their preferences. Nevertheless, despite the change in their system algorithm, their blockchain network had still been vulnerable to the recent attack.
The attack did not come as a complete surprise, according to Lovejoy, as a miner noticed a sudden upsurge in Lyra2REv3 rental prices. Additionally, Nicehash stratum server workers were sent tasks regarding unknown Vertcoin blocks. In response to this, Lovejoy advised Bittrex, one of Vertcoin’s exchange partners, to disable the Vertcoin wallet on their platform once signs of an attack became evident. Bittrex was able to do so, thus minimizing the effects of the attack. The hack attempt was detected when the unknown work sent by the Nicehash stratum servers was inspected.
It remains a mystery to Lovejoy as to why Vertcoin had been subject to yet another attack. The attack could have possibly been for Bittrex, as hacking Vertcoin would not have been very beneficial to the attacker, or it could have served as a “proof of concept.” Whichever the case may be, the attack would have implications and effects on the cryptocurrency community.
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