A research paper printed by The Hebrew College in Israel reviews having found the “first proof of a consensus-level assault on a significant cryptocurrency.” The paper is at present awaiting peer assessment however makes use of publicly obtainable on-chain information and Ethereum’s open supply codebase to affirm its conclusions.

At its core, the paper highlights a problem the place miners can change the timestamp associated to a mined block to keep away from elevated problem on the community. On-chain information seems to assist the declare as Aviv Yaish, one of many paper’s authors, highlighted F2Pool’s block timestamps being artificially altered to enhance rewards.

Uncle Maker

Ethereum is maintained via a proof-of-work consensus mechanism, which might be moved to proof-of-stake this September. Nevertheless, thus far, the community seems to be prone to the assault recognized in by The Hebrew College.

The consensus-level assault is known as an Uncle Maker assault throughout the paper in reference to the “uncle” blocks used within the exploit. Blocks throughout the Ethereum blockchain act as a set of information which might be checked, distributed, and verified throughout the complete community. Uncle blocks are legitimate blocks which have been faraway from the principle chain however nonetheless obtain rewards.

“The assault permits an attacker to exchange rivals’ main-chain blocks after the actual fact with a block of its personal, thus inflicting the changed block’s miner to lose all transactions charges for the transactions contained throughout the block, which might be demoted from the main-chain.”

Miners can set a block’s timestamp inside “a sure affordable sure,” usually inside just a few seconds. One mining pool that was singled out within the analysis was F2Pool, which “prior to now two years, F2Pool didn’t have even a single block with a timestamp” that matched the anticipated end result. F2Pool is without doubt one of the largest Ethereum swimming pools working with a hashrate of 129 TH/s and producing roughly 1.5K ETH in each day rewards.

The paper additionally highlighted that F2Pool’s “founder has made a comparatively effectively publicized condemnation of competing mining swimming pools, blaming them for attacking his personal mining pool” whereas, in actuality, “F2Pool are attacking different mining swimming pools.”

The financial influence of the assault has not but been formally recognized, however CryptoSlate reached out Yaish who instructed us,

“For every profitable occasion of the assault, F2Pool earned 14% extra from block rewards, and as well as earned all of the transaction charges contained inside.

We’re at present making an attempt to offer concrete estimations for each of your questions utilizing real-world information, which might be printed instantly when we have now them!”

The Hebrew College has “concrete fixes for Ethereum’s protocol” and created a patch for consideration. Yaish acknowledged in a blog post that the data was “responsibly disclosed to the Ethereum Basis” earlier than publication.

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