Sometimes the best way to ensure your enemies can’t take advantage of you is to keep all your vulnerabilities and issues as secret as possible, and for one team of bitcoin researchers, doing so has ensured the world’s number one cryptocurrency by market cap has stayed safe over the past two years.
Bitcoin Had a Major Issue That Was Kept Quiet
In 2018, Bitcoin Core was discovered to have a serious vulnerability. It wasn’t long before the issue was fixed up, but the entire operation was kept very hush hush as a means of ensuring hackers had no idea it ever even existed. If they had, they would have no doubt found other ways to explore the vulnerability.
Now, two years later, bitcoin researchers are finally coming clean about the situation. Believing there to be no way further attacks can occur, they have published a new report that shows a similar vulnerability has appeared in other cryptocurrency blockchains. The issue is referred to as INVDoS, which at the basic level, is a standard DDoS (denial of service) attack.
For the most part, DDoS attacks are relatively easy to deal with. They don’t necessarily result in lost or stolen funds, but rather stop companies or certain firms and projects from running their operations as normal. Discovered in 2018 by Braydon Fuller, the real danger with INVDoS showed its face when Fuller found that a hacker could potentially develop problematic bitcoin transactions that could destroy the memory of bitcoin servers. This could ultimately lead to the crashing of various systems.
In an interview, Fuller explained:
At the time of the discovery, this represented more than 50 percent of publicly-advertised bitcoin nodes with inbound traffic, and likely a majority of miners and exchanges.
This Could Have Affected Other Coins
He further stated that the same attack could have potentially been performed on several other blockchains, such as Litecoin and Namecoin. Fuller was confident that such attacks could affect these currencies’ transaction processes and ensure that money was lost. He stated:
This could be through a loss of mining time or expenditure of electricity by shutting down nodes and delaying blocks or causing the network to temporarily partition. It could also be through disruption and delay of time-sensitive contracts or prohibiting economic activity. That could affect commerce, exchanges, atomic swaps, escrows and lightning network HTLC payment channels.
The crypto space has been wrought with fraud and malicious activity over the past several years, with incidents such as Coincheck occurring less than three years ago in early January of 2018. The situation resulted in the highest level of crypto losses in the history of the space, with more than $500 million in digital funds vanishing overnight. The incident ultimately led to the involvement of Japanese financial authorities regulating the crypto space and working to prevent further fraud and criminal activity.