Mining attacks on Proof of Work coins are cheaper and easier than ever. Today, verge suffered its third such attack in six weeks. Thanks to the availability of rentable hashing power, orchestrating an attack that would previously have required weeks of meticulous planning can be executed in minutes. A new website tracks the surprisingly low cost of taking over a range of PoW coins.
51% Attacks Are Cheaper Than Ever
Crypto51.app is a new website that tracks the theoretical cost of launching a 51% attack on a Proof of Work coin. It calculates the cost of attacking each coin for an hour, during which time it should be possible to confirm six or more blocks, for a typical PoW coin, and to use this window to push through double spend transactions before depositing these funds at an exchange.
In reality, there is no guarantee that a one-hour attack would work, as this would quickly be detected and exchanges placed on high alert for any suspicious deposits. It’s certainly feasible, however; the $18m attack on bitcoin gold proved that much. The ease with which a coin can be commandeered for nefarious purposes depends on a number of factors including its current network hashrate and hashing algorithm. Coins that use the equihash algorithm are particularly susceptible to Nicehash, whose hashpower is colossal.
Bytecoin Could Be Attacked for Just $557
Bytecoin has a $1 billion market cap and is a top 20 cryptocurrency, but could be 51% attacked for a mere $557 thanks to its choice of algorithm and low hashrate. Bitcoin private, recently backed by professional shiller John McAfee, could be attacked for just $778. Ever since verge was attacked twice in two months, in between successful attacks on bitcoin gold, monacoin, and possibly electroneum, miners have been on the lookout for signs of another attack. Only today, May 29, verge is reported to have suffered its third 51% attack.
As news.Bitcoin.com recently reported, “One PoW altcoin team has set up a script to constantly monitor their hashrate. In the event of a spike of over 10%, they will be automatically notified. Should the newly added hashrate emanate from an unknown pool, or be in danger of tipping an existing pool over 50%, they have a large quantity BTC on standby with Nicehash ready to purchase their own firepower to counter the attack.”
Proof of Work has traditionally been regarded as a safer consensus mechanism than Proof of Stake. While that still holds true for coins with a high hashrate such as ethereum or bitcoin core, smaller coins have less protection. For anyone pondering a 51% attack, be it for financial or ideological reasons, Crypto51.app makes it easy to do the math and weigh up the risk and reward.
Which Proof of Work coin would you 51% attack if you had the hashpower? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Crypto51.app, and Nicehash.
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