A analysis paper revealed by The Hebrew College in Israel studies having found the “first proof of a consensus-level assault on a serious cryptocurrency.” The paper is presently 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 difficulty the place miners can change the timestamp associated to a mined block to keep away from elevated issue on the community. On-chain information seems to help the declare as Aviv Yaish, one of many paper’s authors, highlighted F2Pool’s block timestamps being artificially altered to enhance rewards.
(9/12) At any time when F2Pool’s block timestamps attain the purpose the place mining issue is meant to lower, they artificially set them to be one second earlier. F2Pool has been executing this assault over the previous two years, and the proof has been hiding in plain sight! … pic.twitter.com/mDEG2UqXZh
— Aviv Yaish (@yaish_aviv) August 5, 2022
Ethereum is maintained by a proof-of-work consensus mechanism, which can be moved to proof-of-stake this September. Nevertheless, up to now, 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 inside the paper in reference to the “uncle” blocks used within the exploit. Blocks inside the Ethereum blockchain act as a set of data which can be checked, distributed, and verified throughout the whole community. Uncle blocks are legitimate blocks which were faraway from the primary chain however nonetheless obtain rewards.
“The assault permits an attacker to switch opponents’ main-chain blocks after the very fact with a block of its personal, thus inflicting the changed block’s miner to lose all transactions charges for the transactions contained inside the block, which can be demoted from the main-chain.”
Miners can set a block’s timestamp inside “a sure affordable certain,” sometimes inside just a few seconds. One mining pool that was singled out within the analysis was F2Pool, which “up to now two years, F2Pool didn’t have even a single block with a timestamp” that matched the anticipated consequence. F2Pool is among the largest Ethereum swimming pools working with a hashrate of 129 TH/s and producing roughly 1.5K ETH in day by day rewards.
The paper additionally highlighted that F2Pool’s “founder has made a comparatively properly 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 affect of the assault has not but been formally recognized, however CryptoSlate reached out Yaish who informed 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.
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The Hebrew College has “concrete fixes for Ethereum’s protocol” and created a patch for consideration. Yaish acknowledged in a weblog publish that the data was “responsibly disclosed to the Ethereum Basis” earlier than publication.