Following the 51% attack on Ethereum Classic, a popular hard fork of the world’s second biggest cryptocurrency Ethereum, industry commentators are arguing that top-tier cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and Ethereum are susceptible to similar attacks. Is there a real wave of fear among the crypto community?
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Does the Bitcoin Protocol Need an Evaluation?
The Ethereum Classic fiasco has cast doubt over the long-marketed strength of the Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus mechanism. President of Blockchain at Columbia University Nir Kabessa believes that there is a rare possibility where perpetrators could conduct a 51-percent attack vector on major cryptocurrencies–a feat once considered unfeasible.
Kabessa was quoted on Forbes saying:
“It’s much cheaper to 51-percent attack supposed top tier projects than many might have assumed, how long until trading is halted amongst notable exchanges?”
Further questioning the PoW consensus algorithm, Kabessa said that the ETC 51% attack episode, whereby the perpetrator managed to double spent $1.1 million USD worth of the digital asset, casts doubt over blockchain’s weighty and principal promise of immutability.
He went on to suggest that bitcoin and Ethereum should consider a “deep-evaluation” if such an attack is conducted on their respective blockchains.
ETC Hack Drives Increased Trust in Bitcoin
Entirely opposing the likelihood of a 51-percent hack on bitcoin or Ethereum, Senior Market Analyst at asset trading platform eToro Mati Greenspan, asserted that the attack on Ethereum Classic is enhancing trust in bitcoin and Ethereum, rather than undermining it.
While every blockchain protocol, including bitcoin and Ethereum, are theoretically vulnerable to a 51-percent attack, it is likely impossible to achieve. Per Greenspan:
“Ethereum has a hashrate of about 20 times that of Ethereum Classic. So, while it might be possible to temporarily get enough hashrate to control 51% of ETC’s network, it would be practically implausible to affect ETH in this way. Putting things into perspective, if someone is dreaming about trying to 51% attack Bitcoin, they would need about 4,500 times the amount of hash than they do to attack ETC.”
The Cost of a 51% Attack
Crypto51, a website that approximates the cost of launching a 51-percent attack on cryptocurrencies, demonstrates that there is a 0 percent chance of manipulating the immutability of bitcoin. Concurrently, it highlights that Ethereum Classic has a 101 percent chance of falling victim to the dangerous attack vector.
Even though the chances of an individual or group of attackers taking control of the bitcoin network are zero, Jordan Earls–co-founder of the world’s 27th biggest cryptocurrency by market cap Qtum–assumes that the PoW protocol could see some updates. At the same time, Earls stated that the Proof of Stake (PoS) protocol is better than the industry-wide used PoW concept.
As opposed to claims that the crypto token ecosystem will dry out following the ETC 51-percent attack, the crypto market has not reacted negatively to the news.
Is PoS better than the PoW protocol? Share your views in the comments section below.
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