The recent 51% attack on the Ethereum Classic (ETC) blockchain has sparked the debate of what is the best way to protect the blockchain and keep it attack free. While there are a lot of views on the topic that have surfaced over the past week, ETC contributor Tomaz Kariz has published a post on a medium that kind of defends the Ethereum Classic blockchain and states the attack is on the network participants.
What led to this Ethereum Classic attack, Network or people in the network?
According to Tomaz, it’s not the fault of the network that it went under the attack but it all starts with the way a node chose the real (longer) blockchain.
I just published why I think 51% attacks are not a failure of the network but rather an attack on network participants.https://t.co/hJyiuAIguy
— Tomaz Kariz (@phyrooo) January 11, 2019
The way Tomaz puts it in his post, it’s not only difficult but next to impossible to stop the double spending attack because the way the blockchain nodes picks up the blockchain and switches its search of the “real” blockchain. He further highlights the role of Probabilistic Transaction Finality in implementing the double spend attack. According to this thesis, Tomaz concludes,
“The 51% attack is not an attack on the network itself but rather on ‘naive’ network participants. Whenever we make a transaction we can decide the number of blocks we are willing to wait to ‘convince ourselves’ that the transaction is set in stone.”
In both Bitcoin and Ethereum chains, the transaction finality is merely probabilistic. However, even though it is probabilistic, with the current Bitcoin network hash rate you can be pretty sure that waiting for 30 blocks will give you a VERY nice guarantee that the transaction will stay on the chain.
He further adds,
“Ethereum Classic network was merely following the consensus rules and functioned correctly as designed. For better or worse, ETC doesn’t care if humans lost money.”
While Tomaz has put forward his viewpoint, a lot of crypto stakeholders believe that double spend attack and decentralization go hand in hand. Recently Charlie Lee of Litecoin also tweeted stating that if the coin hasn’t had a double spend attack it is probably centralized.
This is a thought-provoking observation. 🤔
By definition, a decentralized cryptocurrency must be susceptible to 51% attacks whether by hashrate, stake, and/or other permissionlessly-acquirable resources.
If a crypto can't be 51% attacked, it is permissioned and centralized. https://t.co/LRCVj5F0O1
— Charlie Lee [LTC⚡] (@SatoshiLite) January 8, 2019
Emin Gun Siren, Professor of Cornell University, and Co-Founder of bloXroute Labs, which research blockchains and related technologies, also state his point on the attacks and blockchain reorgs.
He sites this event as a complete failure on ETC’s part and claims it as complete failure of immutabilty.
A deep reorg is a rewrite of the blockchain, a rewriting of history. As such, it marks complete failure of immutability.
— Emin Gün Sirer (@el33th4xor) January 7, 2019
Since immutability is ETC's main claim to fame, this is technically a catastrophic failure. Let's see what the exchanges will do in response.
— Emin Gün Sirer (@el33th4xor) January 7, 2019
If Tomaz’s thesis is correct and this is how blockchains are designed to work, then its an indirect human error and not the problem of the blockchain. But no doubt the recent event has raised questions on the authenticity of both blockchain and especially on the POW consensus mechanism.
Do you agree with Tomaz’s view or it’s just a story prove Ethereum Classic innocent? Do let us know your views on the same.
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Nilesh Maurya has been associated for past 8 years as an Investment Banker with Omega Capital, a bespoke Investment Banking outfit having offices in Mumbai, New York, Singapore, and Dubai. He has been a regular contributor to business publications such as Business India and Market Express and has been a mentor to many start-up companies. Nilesh Maurya has been associated for past 8 years as an Investment Banker with Omega Capital, a bespoke Investment Banking outfit having offices in Mumbai, New York, Singapore, and Dubai. He has been a regular contributor to business publications such as Business India and Market Express and has been a mentor to many start-up companies. Follow him on Twitter at @KoinKing1 or connect with me on linkedin.