According to various reports, a malicious group of hackers called the “51 Crew” is hijacking blockchain clones by taking a majority of their hashrates and double spending their tokens. Two cryptocurrency projects, Krypton and Shift, are among the first projects to be hit.
The 51 Crew Wants to Damage Smaller ETH Clones
The 51 Crew managed to attack the Krypton network last week, allowing it to double spend the virtual currency at the Bittrex exchange. Following this event, both Shift and Krypton received extortion threats by the group, but have so far refused to pay a ransom.
Krypton founder Stephanie Kent forwarded the 51 Crew’s extortion message to Crypto Hustle :
We have a chain going on Krypton that we can fork at anytime. It is 7000-8000 blocks because Bittrex wallet was down 2 days ago. While we do want to make bitcoin our intention is not to wreck a project. We have sold our remaining 20,000 kr today and will give be you the opportunity to end us messing with you if you want. We aren’t asking for anything more than would cover our cost. 7 BTC and we will close our fork. That is the price of the 20,000 kr plus the 8000 blocks and mining cost. If you agree let us know and we will never mess with you again. If not we will fork the 8000 blocks.
Both Krypton and Shift blockchains are smaller sized clones of Ethereum that are built to issue their native cryptocurrencies, decentralized applications, and smart contracts. This has brought significant questioning towards the stability of smaller Ethereum-based clones. The attacks aimed at these two distinct networks have caused speculators to worry believe 51 Crew may be preparing to attack Ethereum classic (ETC).
Is Ethereum Classic a Target?
The unofficial Ethereum chain currently operates at 511.4 GH/s, however, and would be significantly difficult to overtake – but not impossible.
On July 27, Bitcoin.com reported on an alleged attempt to attack the ETC blockchain by an Ethereum community member named Seanz123. The pseudonym and “ETH-Core only advocate” began promoting the idea heavily in forums. It was soon forgotten, but the attack on Krypton has brought such possibilities back into the spotlight.
Ethereum Classic has vocal supporters as well, with Barry Silbert, and Litecoin’s Charlie Lee applauding the alternative chain. Also, former ETH-Core founder and contributor Charles Hoskinson has shown his support for the unofficial chain, stating his willingness to help with the project.
The main issue is that blockchains with significantly lighter mining activity are easy targets for 51% attacks – where one person or group of people take control of the network by gaining a majority of its mining power. Much larger networks such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum Core, and others with high hashrates are less vulnerable.
Smaller cryptocurrencies that are either new, or clones of Ethereum, may have issues due to their low hashrates from malicious mining pools looking to profit. Krypton is currently contemplating switching to a proof-of-stake mechanism to steer clear of any future 51% attacks.
The danger surrounding these smaller altcoins is another reason to stick with Bitcoin as the number-one cryptocurrency, with its blockchain being the most secure and robust distributed ledger ever created.
What do you think about the 51% attack against smaller more susceptible hashrates? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Pixabay, and Ethereum Classic.
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