News has transpired today that points towards Bitcoin Gold falling victim to a number of long term 51% attacks. A 51% attack is when a single entity engulfs the majority of the network (over 50% of it) and thus is able to carry out malicious activities. A similar attack has very recently been carried out on Verge. The full extend of the Bitcoin Gold attacks is not yet registered, however, reports are starting to suggest that as much as $17 Million worth of Bitcoin Gold has been lost as a result of it. The Bitcoin Gold team have published a response to this attack, in which they provide a very in-depth discussion about what has happened and what will happen as a result of this. See it for yourself, here- https://bitcoingold.org/responding-to-attacks/ According to Bitcoin Gold:
There have been 51%/Double-Spend attacks against Exchanges using Bitcoin Gold. Read why, how we're responding short-term, and what we're doing for a longer-term response.https://t.co/59YefZ3xje#btg #bitcoingold #btc #bitcoin #blockchain #1cpu1vote pic.twitter.com/azZ1750adj— Bitcoin Gold [BTG] (@bitcoingold) May 24, 2018
“This is not due to some flaw in blockchain technology; any blockchain – even Bitcoin – can theoretically be attacked by a malicious actor who can control more hashing (computing) power than all the honest miners. Of course, the biggest risk is to a smaller network in the shadow of a bigger one.”Moreover:
“While this problem isn’t unique to Bitcoin Gold and doesn’t represent a flaw, we consider our Exchanges to be critical partners in our Ecosystem, so in a theoretical sense, attacks on Exchanges are attacks on us all. And even when the attacker fails to steal BTC or some other currency from an Exchange after their double-spend, their 51% attack causes a “reorganization” on the blockchain, which is disruptive to honest users and steals mining revenue from honest miners… this means they literally are an attack on us all.”Finally:
“We’re monitoring the situation carefully in a variety of ways to rapidly alert the Exchanges when we can tell an attack is in progress. (The last known attempt was on May 19th.) This is why many Exchanges dramatically increased their confirmation requirements, or else closed their deposit wallets entirely. We’ve been working at an incredible pace the past days to put the plan and pieces together, and we expect to upgrade our mainnet approximately seven days after the necessary software is up and running on our testnet. This upgrade will require some software updates on the part of Exchanges, Wallets, Pools, Explorers… While it would be better to give all our partners more than seven days to test and deploy to avoid disruption, these attacks have already forced disruption on us all, so we feel it’s best to get the upgrade completed as soon as we possibly can.”These extracts cover just a small part of the story from Bitcoin Gold, however, hopefully this provides a brief account of what has happened. If you are a Bitcoin Gold investor and do have concerns about this, I suggest you have a look over the full article, as mentioned above. So, what will happen next? Bitcoin Gold are going to run some updates to attempt to recover from this, although, as we have seen with Verge, sometimes updates simply just expose new vulnerabilities. Hopefully Bitcoin Gold can recover from this and hopefully they are able to learn from mistakes made that may have led up to these attacks being so successful.