One of the nightmares of digital tokens is 51 percent. It is the scenario in which an entity takes control of a network and could do with it as they see fit.
This is exactly what an ethical hacker that goes by the name Geocold did today after announcing that he would live stream a 51 percent attack last week.
However, the live streaming did not really go as planned as a number of services pulled the plug stalling the broadcast.
Geocold announced last week that he would live stream a 51 percent attack on an altcoin. His objective was to show how easy it is to gain control of low hashrate PoW coins.
The announcement gained him over 750 viewers when he stated that the coin selected for attack was Einsteinium (EMC2). However when it was time for the demonstration, the Einsteinium network had ratcheted up its hashrate just as expected.
The new 1.4 TH/s is 15 times the network’s normal hashrate. Apparently, a week notice was more than enough for the community to put in modalities that ensured their network was not used as the demo guinea pig.
Geocold had to move over to Bitcoin Private, the next altcoin in his contingency plan. According to Bitcoin.com account,
“he connected to a BTCP mining pool using a couple of hundred dollars’ worth of rented hashpower he’d purchased from Nicehash with BTC.
Shortly after finding his first block, however, Geocold came unstuck as members of the Bitcoin Private community fought back, possibly after he’d accidentally leaked his IP address while live-streaming.”
Report Buttons Activated
The initial demo was cut short apparently by the streaming services having received flood of reports against the channel.
Jackson Palmer, the Dogecoin creator followed the demo. Reacting to it in a tweet, Palmer said,
“I have to say, it is very interesting to be sitting around on a Saturday afternoon watching someone demo-ing a 51% attack while other people attack his IP addresses. Very crypto and 2018.”
A Real Life Mischief
Geocold who has also adopted the moniker of “Mischief-Maker” returned half an hour later after his channel was blacked out.
By this time, his demo lasted just 15 minutes within which he had mined blocks of BTCP.
He clearly dominated the Bitcoin Private network’s hashrate, producing a steady 10 MSol/s versus the rest of the network’s 6 MSol/s.
As he progressed, he created the longest chain of blocks and could have forked the Bitcoin Private had he not been shut out the second time by Stream.me.
70 Percent Control, Near Fork…
Although he clearly proved his point that low hashrate coins can be subjected to 51 percent attacks, it also proved that censorship resistant channels would give people the leverage to promote things that are unethical without restrictions.
It is not yet clear the opinion of the coin community on such issues. Is it right to show the public how to hack a coin if you know how to?
What impact would such knowledge have on the security of altcoins? Isn’t it better show these vulnerabilities to communities privately? If these coins are as vulnerable as has been shown, why should investors trust and invest in them?