Ethereum Successfully Hardforks to Address Vulnerable Vectors

Ethereum has successfully upgraded its network to address a number of attack vectors that were constantly exploited in September and October of this year.

Just before Devcon2’s opening, an attacker exploited a smart contract gas mispricing bug which threatened to derail Ethereum’s big day. The developers, however, were able to take emergency measures, allowing the network to continue operating, but after Devcon2, for a period of two weeks, the attacker kept exploiting the same bug in different and creative ways, leading Gavin Wood, founder of Parity Technologies, to call for a hardfork.

The developers recommended two hardforks, an emergency upgrade to deal with the most serious issues, which was successfully completed in October, and a second hardfork to further optimize the network and increase Ethereum’s robustness.

The second hardfork just completed today and it includes, among other aspects, relay protection so that the ETH and ETC chains can be fully separated. At block 2,670,000, the network disregarded the old bugged chain for the new more robust blockchain without any apparent technical or social complications.

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Image credit: Reddit.

The identity of the attacker remains unknown. There were speculations that he was testing ethereum to find any holes so that the network can become more robust, but he could have, for all we know, intended to disrupt the network. If the latter was his aim, he has somewhat succeeded. Ethereum’s price has been falling for the past month, but the main reason may be because of a rally in bitcoin due to monetary mismanagement by authorities in China, India, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and other countries.

The community has however appeared to be somewhat on suspense during the past two months due to the necessary upgrades being in the background. Now that it’s all completed, investors, developers and businesses might breathe a sigh of relief or even celebrate as the issues are finally resolved, allowing a return to normal operations.

ETC is to also hardfork, but there appears to be little discussion on their main public forum. The currency has fallen to $0.84, attracting little attention after an initial frenzy.

Discussions about a Bitcoin hardfork continue with Segwit and Bitcoin Unlimited in a duel for the currency’s future. The bitcoin community has for almost two years been discussing an upgrade to its transaction capacity, with the extremely prolonged period of decision making exerting a toll to the point where Vox asked what happened to bitcoin’s aim of changing the world. As miners appear divided, developers too and the community itself which has hardforked into two main public forums, a resolution does not appear in sight.

One of the reason appears to be a fear of hardforks, however, as ethereum has now shown time and again, where there is general agreement, there are no complications whatever. Even when there is no general agreement, the matter is resolved in weeks as opposed to months or years.

The different approaches have allowed Ethereum to quickly resolve its issues and move on to more important matters, while Bitcoin continues to argue over one parameter. Main focus may, therefore, once more return to the fast, agile and innovative new currency, while the public and investors wait for bitcoin to determine its path and find its spirit.

Image from Shutterstock.