Attack 51%: can the problem threaten Ethereum

This is a hacking scenario in which a hacker takes control of 51% of the power of the blockchain and can do anything - rewrite the history of transactions, issue a trillion tokens. In a word, do what he pleases.

This issue has previously hurt Bitcoin Gold in 2018, Bitcoin Cash in 2019, and a whole bunch of other projects. This made it possible to steal more than $30 million, which at that time was a colossal amount.

Why are there altcoins, even bitcoin in 2014 was under the threat of hacking. The Ghash.io mining pool had over 50% of the computing power, and in order not to put the network at risk, the developers voluntarily lowered the ceiling of mined blocks to 40%.

Why are we telling all this? Moreover, now many people say that Ethereum is under threat due to the high centralization of staking in POS.

51% Attack Threat for Ethereum: Fact or Fiction?

According to analysts, 59.6% of Ethereum blocks are mined by four organizations:

So what kind of decentralization can we talk about, knowing this state of affairs? What prevents them from blocking transactions at their own discretion and, in general, the entire blockchain, for example, in response to regulatory sanctions?

There is already a precedent, as these companies unanimously blocked ETH addresses associated with Tornado Cash after they were added to the US sanctions list. Fortunately, Buterin has a plan.

Attack 51%: Buterin's answer

So, what did Buterin come up with to avoid blocking the network? Two words: soft fork implementation!

In English. software - UASF. In short, this is a mechanism that is implemented during a network threat, passing control from one validator to another.

That is, if some miners get an advantage and can potentially influence the operation of the blockchain, the community applies UASF. The ETH coins in the attacker's bet are destroyed, and he drops out of the mining race. The next block is mined by another miner.

This idea is not new. It is borrowed from the bitcoin code. Actually, in 2017, with the help of UASF, the SegWit update was activated.

However, in Ethereum, this mechanism has been slightly modified to specifically deal with 51% attacks. According to Buterin, you can carry out UASF as much as you like, destroying the attacker's funds.

In addition to the soft fork, there is another option for protection

Ethereum allows private validators to build a minority chain, ignoring malicious changes made by a hacker. As a result, it will be locked in a separate chain that no one will develop further.

In general, despite the centralization of staking, the Ethereum network is not as easy to take control as it seems.

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