It seems the Ethereum community will be initiating a hard fork once again. Actually, make that two hard forks. In an official Ethereum blog post on October 13, developer Martin Swende announced the decision to hard fork due to malicious network attacks.
Malicious Actors Attacking the Ethereum Network
Over the past few weeks, the Ethereum network has seen troubling times. An attacker or group of actors has been “crafty” by finding attack vectors to hinder the network.
Lead developers believe the exploits have been due to the low cost of “gas,” which powers Ethereum smart contracts. The low gas prices have given the attacker the ability to threaten the network with constant denial of service attacks.
The official Ethereum blog explains the need for a hard fork stating:
“While the recent patches have led to an overall increased resiliency in the client implementations, the attacks have also demonstrated that a lower-level change to the EVM pricing model is needed. For many users, the most visible consequence is probably that they are having difficulties getting transactions included in blocks, and full nodes are facing memory limitations in managing the bloated state.”
The hard fork is intended to raise gas prices to make it more difficult for the attacker to disrupt the Ethereum blockchain and clients. Currently, exchanges have been having difficulty with Ether withdrawals and deposits due to extremely slow confirmation times. ShapeShift revealed on October 13 that this is affecting Ethereum assets such as REP and Digix DGD. According to social media and Ethereum forums, the cost of gas will be considerably higher after the fork.
Block 2457000 and the Second Hard Fork
Many in the Ethereum community seem to support this planned hard fork. The first hard fork during the summer was very controversial and led to some unexpected results.
The last fork was contentious because the network broke its immutability and reversed a third-party application’s mistake. This maneuver, many believe, is more like a patch and will not see the same results.
The Ethereum blog recommends all miners to lower the gas limit to 500K gas. The hard fork created from EIP 150 version 1c will start at block height 2457000. Martin Swende says, “this will reprice certain operations to correspond better to the underlying computational complexity.” Following the uncontroversial fork, the developer says a second hard fork will commence shortly after.
“A second hard-fork will follow shortly after, aimed at reverting the current “state-bloat” introduced by the attacks. This second fork will serve to remove accounts which are empty; lacking code, balance, storage and nonce == 0,” explains Swende.
All Eyes Will Be Watching Ethereum’s Next Forks
The entire cryptocurrency community will once again watch this network and community shuffle towards a fix. On the Ethereum subreddit, there has been some infighting about the fork, with discussions mainly focused on the DAO refund. Some have even expressed concern about the birth of another Ethereum offshoot like Ethereum Classic. Others are having a difficult time trying to understand the second “state-bloat” fork.
Ethereum developers say they have implemented the necessary changes within clients and are testing for “consensus-breaking vulnerabilities.” The hard fork seems pretty much definite, and most of the community members are following the lead developers advice. Furthermore, Ethereum engineers have also added the fork to the Ethereum Bug Bounty. Community members are encouraged to search for attack vectors and bugs for a reward.
What do you think about Ethereum planning another hard fork? Let us know in the comments below.
Source: Ethereum Blog
Images via Shutterstock and Ethereum